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Any theories on Vorthan?


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I'd like to start a discussion on a fairly obscure topic. The god Vorthan is mentioned a few times in the Jonatela section in the GtG. On pg. 228 under "Vorthan's Hill" he is described as "an Underworld God of War and the Red Planet." He is also mentioned as one of the war gods worshiped by the nobles in Jonatela, along with Humakt, Orlanth, and Urox. 

So, it seems pretty clear that Vorthan is same god as Shargash/Tolat, right? There is only one god I know of that is associated with the Red Planet, and that's everyone's favorite Destroyer. I'm wondering about how a group of superficially Westernized Orlanthi started worshiping Vorthan alongside their other traditional war gods. What connection does Vorthan have with Fronela and its people? There are a few possibilities I'm considering. BTW these theories assume that the Enjoreli of Dawn Age Fronela basically became the Orlanthi people of the Third Age who now inhabit Jonatela. 

  • There seem to be a lot of entrances to the Underworld in Jonatela, at Jonat's Hill (p. 225) and Tamalior (p. 228). Also there is the Red Door in nearby Oranor (p. 216). Vorthan is a god of the Underworld, so perhaps his worship in Fronela goes back to the earliest times during the Enjoreli period. I could see his worship being propitiatory, with people seeking protection from Underworld demons or other monsters. During the Great Darkness, it also would have been useful to have such a fearsome god on your side with Chaos running amok (although Storm Bull was also probably worshiped by the Enjoreli for this purpose). 
  • Fronelan peoples have also had repeated contact with Pelorians and their religion, so maybe Vorthan is an imported cult. In the Dawn Age, the Bright Empire was very active here in their war against Talor the Laughing Warrior. The Enjoreli living here at the time were open to accepting many different foreign gods, so maybe Shargash worked his way in there and became Vorthan over time. 

Curious what other people think, especially the Shargash fans!

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26 minutes ago, Gallowglass said:

I'd like to start a discussion on a fairly obscure topic. The god Vorthan is mentioned a few times in the Jonatela section in the GtG. On pg. 228 under "Vorthan's Hill" he is described as "an Underworld God of War and the Red Planet." He is also mentioned as one of the war gods worshiped by the nobles in Jonatela, along with Humakt, Orlanth, and Urox. 

So, it seems pretty clear that Vorthan is same god as Shargash/Tolat, right? There is only one god I know of that is associated with the Red Planet, and that's everyone's favorite Destroyer. I'm wondering about how a group of superficially Westernized Orlanthi started worshiping Vorthan alongside their other traditional war gods. What connection does Vorthan have with Fronela and its people? There are a few possibilities I'm considering. BTW these theories assume that the Enjoreli of Dawn Age Fronela basically became the Orlanthi people of the Third Age who now inhabit Jonatela. 

  • There seem to be a lot of entrances to the Underworld in Jonatela, at Jonat's Hill (p. 225) and Tamalior (p. 228). Also there is the Red Door in nearby Oranor (p. 216). Vorthan is a god of the Underworld, so perhaps his worship in Fronela goes back to the earliest times during the Enjoreli period. I could see his worship being propitiatory, with people seeking protection from Underworld demons or other monsters. During the Great Darkness, it also would have been useful to have such a fearsome god on your side with Chaos running amok (although Storm Bull was also probably worshiped by the Enjoreli for this purpose). 
  • Fronelan peoples have also had repeated contact with Pelorians and their religion, so maybe Vorthan is an imported cult. In the Dawn Age, the Bright Empire was very active here in their war against Talor the Laughing Warrior. The Enjoreli living here at the time were open to accepting many different foreign gods, so maybe Shargash worked his way in there and became Vorthan over time. 

Curious what other people think, especially the Shargash fans!

Probably this is the more classic figure like Tolat rather than the tamed Shargash. Shargash in an earlier era was much wilder. Orlanthi do know this figure as Jagrekriand, although in standard Theyalan fare he's an ancient enemy (fun note, that's what "Anasazi" means and why we don't use it anymore to refer to the ancestral Puebloans).

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13 minutes ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

Probably this is the more classic figure like Tolat rather than the tamed Shargash. Shargash in an earlier era was much wilder. Orlanthi do know this figure as Jagrekriand, although in standard Theyalan fare he's an ancient enemy

This is partly why I find Vorthan interesting. In every other Theyalan culture, Shargash/Tolat is clearly an enemy god. But in Jonatela, and maybe elsewhere in Fronela, he seems to be accepted and play some cultural role, although what that role is I'm still puzzling out, other than "scary war god." 

13 minutes ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

fun note, that's what "Anasazi" means and why we don't use it anymore to refer to the ancestral Puebloans

That's interesting, never knew that!

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Also, is there a part of Shargash mythology where he wasn't tamed or connected to Yelm in the beginning? My memory of his story is that he spent the Golden Age chomping at the bit and being held back by his father, then after Umath appeared he became progressively more out of control until he burnt himself out in the Great Darkness. 

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2 minutes ago, Gallowglass said:

This is partly why I find Vorthan interesting. In every other Theyalan culture, Shargash/Tolat is clearly an enemy god. But in Jonatela, and maybe elsewhere in Fronela, he seems to be accepted and play some cultural role, although what that role is I'm still puzzling out, other than "scary war god." 

That's interesting, never knew that!

It's from Navajo anaasází, as the Navajo remember them as ancient enemies. But they, the descendants of the ancient Puebloans, and other modern Puebloan peoples, as well as scholars, have rejected the use of this term, which was originally used by Wetherill, and then picked up by Kidder because it seemed like a useful shorthand.

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1 minute ago, Gallowglass said:

Also, is there a part of Shargash mythology where he wasn't tamed or connected to Yelm in the beginning? My memory of his story is that he spent the Golden Age chomping at the bit and being held back by his father, then after Umath appeared he became progressively more out of control until he burnt himself out in the Great Darkness. 

Yes, certainly. Yelm is (or was, perhaps) a role. There have been many different Yelms; Dayzatar was the first to mantle Yelm. There was even a female Yelm - Ourania mantled Yelm and it's narrated in the Entekosiad. Clearly a lot of things changed over time.

These ancient times were very unsettled. We've seen a lot of discussion about Shargash perhaps once being a slash-and-burn agricultural deity. He once had Shadzorings, a species of demon, that interbred with his people.

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2 minutes ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

Yes, certainly. Yelm is (or was, perhaps) a role. There have been many different Yelms; Dayzatar was the first to mantle Yelm. There was even a female Yelm - Ourania mantled Yelm and it's narrated in the Entekosiad. Clearly a lot of things changed over time.

 

I have read that theory, although it begs the question of who Tolat's father is, if he even had one. 

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2 minutes ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

Yes, certainly. Yelm is (or was, perhaps) a role. There have been many different Yelms; Dayzatar was the first to mantle Yelm. There was even a female Yelm - Ourania mantled Yelm and it's narrated in the Entekosiad. Clearly a lot of things changed over time.

You came back super sassy. I love it.

Alkoth has to be brought into the Tripolis. Enough said. There are hints that he was allied with Kargzant first within Time.

As for Vorthan some texts have the pre-Jonatelan rathorings acknowledging a red [moon] god "Tol," but not much is said of him. The red god is ancient in the northwest, usually directly associated with the Naka/la. On the other hand, they also recognized various white goddesses so the Western Reaches are prime breeding ground for apocalyptic revivals.

Tolat-of-Trowjang may well have been recognized across the southern coast and then introduced to the northwest, creating complications and recognitions like this Vorthan fellow.

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41 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

As for Vorthan some texts have the pre-Jonatelan rathorings acknowledging a red [moon] god "Tol," but not much is said of him. The red god is ancient in the northwest, usually directly associated with the Naka/la. On the other hand, they also recognized various white goddesses so the Western Reaches are prime breeding ground for apocalyptic revivals.

 

What are these texts? The super early Greg stuff? This seems to back up the idea that Vorthan was present in some form in Fronela before the coming of Theyalan or Pelorian gods. I'm also noticing that the Enjoreli worshiped the Blue Moon as Croesia (this is under Croesium on p. 206). Wherever the Blue Moon is worshiped, Tolat seems to be along for the ride. So maybe the Enjoreli had established cults for Anilla and Tolat (as Croesia and Vorthan). Worship of the former may have dwindled in the modern era, while Vorthan worship has continued due to his utility as a god of war. 

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26 minutes ago, Gallowglass said:

The super early Greg stuff?

Yeah. Tol/at is mentioned in both Snodalsaga and Jonatsaga as the underworld war god of the northwest. The fact that he becomes integrated into both bakanist and rathorist ancestral narratives points me toward a shared separate source . . . maybe the bull people, why not. People tell me they had room to roam from the proto-Kralorelan border so why not carry a moon all the way up from the islands?

I love the note on his sister. Sometimes people try to estrange them but bringing them back together may do great things. If I were doing a cold reading now I'd wonder if she was more actively antagonistic to the Empire so her sites were more carefully wiped. He lingered better around the fringes as cults like Vorthan. One way or another, it's interesting that he would have to be present inside KOW where all badasses are invited.

Unlikely to bring him in with the riddlers because the bull peoples seem to have successfully purged all nysalorite influences. Unless of course that's just what we're told. A red [moon] carried back to Carmania would be interesting as a 7M precursor. Do we know any Carmanian wargods who might apply?

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Totally non-canonical, and the wording may be changed but my current project includes:

The ruling warrior nobility is heavily Westernized worshipping a henotheistic cult of the Invisible God and practice sorcery, but many also worship Jonat as a divine ancestor, and Humakt, Orlanth, Talor, Urox, and Vorthan[1] as War Gods.

 

[1] An Underworld God of War and the Red Planet, the twin brother of the Blue Moon who the Enjoreli worshiped as Croesia; he is known elsewhere as Shargash and Tolat. He spends half his time in the Second Hell, and half in the Sky. Worship of Vorthan is primitive and savage, with blood sacrifice, including the sacrifice of captured foemen. The Red God is ancient in the northwest, possibly dating back to the Enjoreli Bull People. Western sources claim he is the son of Ehilm, the Sun God and Nakala, the Goddess of Darkness.

Vorthan is depicted as a scowling old man with black skin with a red jewel embedded in his brow.

For the Jonatlings and other hill barbarians of Fronela, Vorthan, whilst cruel, he is not the foe of Orlanth like Jagrekriand or Shargash are for the Heortlings.

His cult may be a survival from the days of the Eleven Beasts Alliance.

 

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3 hours ago, Gallowglass said:

I have read that theory, although it begs the question of who Tolat's father is, if he even had one. 

There were three brothers who were Yelm, runs the story, and one of them was our endlessly Weeder-loved regenerating volcano friend, one was Dayzatar, and one was Arraz. When we talk about Godtime, we're talking about Arraz, known in Peloria also as Brightface, when we speak of Yelm.

Ourania, daughter of Dayzatar, is ignored in that story; so is Muharzam, the son (of Arraz?) who is likely the actual Yelm we have now, the one who was slain, fell to hell, and returned to triumph over competitors like Kargzant.

So we know Tolat-Shargash wasn't a brother who fought to be Yelm. It doesn't mean he wasn't also born of the Aether Primolt in the same way they were.

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2 hours ago, scott-martin said:

One way or another, it's interesting that he would have to be present inside KOW where all badasses are invited.

He is almost certainly one of the "100 Gods of War" that they follow, at least in my list. 

 

1 hour ago, M Helsdon said:

[1] An Underworld God of War and the Red Planet, the twin brother of the Blue Moon who the Enjoreli worshiped as Croesia; he is known elsewhere as Shargash and Tolat. He spends half his time in the Second Hell, and half in the Sky. Worship of Vorthan is primitive and savage, with blood sacrifice, including the sacrifice of captured foemen. The Red God is ancient in the northwest, possibly dating back to the Enjoreli Bull People. Western sources claim he is the son of Ehilm, the Sun God and Nakala, the Goddess of Darkness.

 

I like it! I am super excited for this new project of yours. I'm especially looking forward to your take on the Kingdom of War. 

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1 hour ago, Gallowglass said:

He is almost certainly one of the "100 Gods of War" that they follow, at least in my list. 

Quite possible, but so far as I can tell, many of the hundred gods of war have been lost or forgotten since the God Time, and that is probably a very good thing, as they are probably demonic in nature, not nice demons of another pantheon you don't like, but of Chaos.

1 hour ago, Gallowglass said:

I like it! I am super excited for this new project of yours. I'm especially looking forward to your take on the Kingdom of War. 

When I have the first draft complete I will approach Chaosium for permission to continue, as, like The Armies and Enemies of Dragon Pass it is loaded with their intellectual properties. I don't want to start illustrating it to find that it can't go anywhere.

Should also note that prior to starting this project I didn't feel I understood the West, in part due to the presentation in the RQ3 Glorantha box. Now I think I do, to a degree, and it fits with the Bronze Age/Iron Age feel of central Genertela.

Edited by M Helsdon
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!Warning, these are very nascent fan ideas!

I've been loosely working on my "Shargashite Mystery" idea, and one fairly recent idea that was put there is that Shargash is actually Yelm's son of a previous marriage/dalliance, prior to him ascending to Emperordom. In his youth (ie. the Green Age, when there was possibly a day-night cycle), Yelm courted The Lady of Night (Netta, Nakala, take your pick) and they had Shargash as their son (no idea about the Blue Moon personally, but I suppose it implies her as well). Soon things changed, the courtship ended, Yelm assumed Emperordom, turned the universe static (and generally appeared more authoritarian and puritan than his earth-loving father, Aether), and so on. He then married a more respectable/politically acceptable wife, and had a politically acceptable heir, Murharzam, as well as various other entities. Shargash was adopted into their marriage, but as a junior son, one that could never really be a legitimate heir. 

In the earliest incarnations, Shargash may have existed as a god of 1) slash and burn fire (this is mentioned elsewhere and isn't my idea) for agriculture or clearing land for grazing, and 2) possibly the evening red of the horizon (it's perhaps notable that the dusk occurs in the West, I don't know). It's only later he becomes a city god and war god (he may have been a planetary god all along, but then Golden/Green age differences between planets and people and places and stories is deeply muddled). His dual nature of celestial and underworld plays a major role to this fan-made mystery-initiates I'm spitballing, making him a kind of liminal entity.

This story is very hush hush, and may even be heretical among Shargashites IMG, but it's a powerful idea to its initiates and devotees. There is stuff that follows from this, but it's not directly relevant to this thread, as it's quite Peloria-centric.

Edited by Sir_Godspeed
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Here's something I'm wondering. What roles does a god like Vorthan play in a society where you already have several gods of war? He is a bloodthirsty, frightening, berserker god. Think Storm Bull without the same powers against Chaos. In Jonatela I would imagine his cult is small compared to Humakt and others, and considered very extreme. I guess it's a similar situation in Dara Happa. 

Something I was trying to get at in my first post was that maybe Vorthan has some kind of protective power against the Underworld, and that's partly why he is still worshiped. Chaos is actually not that prevalent in Fronela, with Dilis swamp being the only real hotspot outside the Kingdom of War. And the KOW is a very recent phenomenon. But with all these gates to the Underworld lying around, there must be the occasional demon crawling up and wreaking havoc. Who do you call when that happens? Those terrifying Vorthani guys! 

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1 minute ago, Gallowglass said:

Here's something I'm wondering. What roles does a god like Vorthan play in a society where you already have several gods of war? He is a bloodthirsty, frightening, berserker god. Think Storm Bull without the same powers against Chaos. In Jonatela I would imagine his cult is small compared to Humakt and others, and considered very extreme. I guess it's a similar situation in Dara Happa. 

Something I was trying to get at in my first post was that maybe Vorthan has some kind of protective power against the Underworld, and that's partly why he is still worshiped. Chaos is actually not that prevalent in Fronela, with Dilis swamp being the only real hotspot outside the Kingdom of War. And the KOW is a very recent phenomenon. But with all these gates to the Underworld lying around, there must be the occasional demon crawling up and wreaking havoc. Who do you call when that happens? Those terrifying Vorthani guys! 

humakt isn't a war god, he's a murder god. humaktis kill good but they're cut off from kin, kept in warbands, and so forth

Tolat, Shargash and the like are community deities who are war gods. It's a whole different vibe!

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29 minutes ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

humakt isn't a war god, he's a murder god.

But murder with a certain, almost chivalrous honor code (oath-keeping, fair play, etc., if I've understood it correctly). I agree that he's a lot more mercenary than these others though.

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7 minutes ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

Tolat, Shargash and the like are community deities who are war gods. It's a whole different vibe!

I think when it comes to the people who worship these kinds of gods, you see one of two things. Either the cult forms a weird subculture that exists outside, or on the fringes of respectable society. Or the entire society where they are worshiped is weird and violent. I think with Humakt, Storm Bull, and Babeester Gor among others, you see the first pattern. With Shargash/Tolat, it seems much more like the second. Here are some examples-

  • Alkoth - Freaky demon city that exists half in the Underworld. Definitely a community, but one that is insular and barely co-exists with the rest of Dara Happa. 
  • The Pujaleg - Blood-drinking, head-hunting were-bats. They are not your average Hsunchen. 
  • Trowjang Amazons - At home they seem pretty chill, but whenever they encounter foreigners the protocol seems to be: kill, enslave and/or castrate. 

All of these people seem to have trouble integrating with other societies or religions, because they're just so unrestrained. 

In Jonatela, I'm noticing they have something called "military clans" that serve the King and other nobles. If a military clan is sort of like a cult of warriors that exists separately from the wider social order, than I think I am starting to see how Vorthan is accepted, at least in Jonatelan society. 

I wonder if there is Vorthan worship elsewhere in Fronela, maybe as Tol among the Hsunchen. Because there is an Enjoreli connection with all the Orlanthi people in the region (including Oranor, Lomsor, Armorn, maybe even Charg, I wouldn't be surprised if they at least acknowledge his existence. 

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1 hour ago, Gallowglass said:

In Jonatela, I'm noticing they have something called "military clans" that serve the King and other nobles. If a military clan is sort of like a cult of warriors that exists separately from the wider social order, than I think I am starting to see how Vorthan is accepted, at least in Jonatelan society. 

The ruling warrior nobility is heavily Westernized worshipping a henotheistic cult of the Invisible God and practice sorcery, but many also worship Jonat as a divine ancestor, and Humakt, Orlanth, Talor, Urox, and Vorthan[1] as War Gods.

The nobility is divided into cruelly pragmatic War Clans each aided by sorcerers, and rules over the majority Orlanthi peasant population. During the Ban they reduced the surrounding clans of farmers and herders to bondage as helots or forced them to submit to their authority, extracting tribute and service. Revolts are ruthlessly suppressed.

The commoners mostly maintain their traditional Orlanthi practices[2] and his cult enjoys a revival among the elite after the Hero Garundyer of Ralios brings about an alliance of King Congern of Jonatela with King Kocholang of Lankst.

 

[1] An Underworld God of War and the Red Planet, the twin brother of the Blue Moon who the Enjoreli worshiped as Croesia; he is known elsewhere as Shargash, Tolat, and Zolan. He spends half his time in the Second Hell, and half in the Sky. Worship of Vorthan is primitive and savage, with blood sacrifice, including the sacrifice of captured foemen. The Red God is ancient in the northwest, possibly dating back to the Enjoreli Bull People and the days of the Eleven Beasts Alliance.

Western sources claim he is the son of Ehilm, the Sun God and Nakala, the Goddess of Darkness.

Vorthan is depicted as a scowling old man with black skin with a red jewel embedded in his brow.

For the Jonatlings and other hill barbarians of Fronela, Vorthan, whilst cruel, is not the foe of Orlanth as Jagrekriand or Shargash are for the Heortlings.

[2] See The Armies and Enemies of Dragon Pass for details of Orlanthi warfare, and their arms and armor.

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I agree with the general consensus that Vorthan is a native cult of the planet and the underworld. I don't think it has much cultural connection to Shargash or Tolat, but is the same divine entity obviously. Croesia is acknowledged as his sister, but this isn't important most places (except in Croesium, obviously). And Vorthan is also connected to the various entrances to the Underworld, especially the Red Door and the Pit. 

I agree that Vorthan will be one of the hundred gods of War worshipped by the Kingdom of War.

I had a theory that of the Three Weapons of Talor, the Sword was associated with Humakt, the Axe with Babeester Gor, and the Flail with Vorthan, but it was just a theory. 

It might be interesting in the Hero Wars if the Vorthan cult realises the connection between their god and the Red Sword kept in the Temple of War in Spada in Loskalm. They might try to recover it to use for or against the Kingdom of War. 

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On 4/2/2020 at 2:40 PM, M Helsdon said:

Totally non-canonical, and the wording may be changed but my current project includes:

The ruling warrior nobility is heavily Westernized worshipping a henotheistic cult of the Invisible God and practice sorcery, but many also worship Jonat as a divine ancestor, and Humakt, Orlanth, Talor, Urox, and Vorthan[1] as War Gods.

 

[1] An Underworld God of War and the Red Planet, the twin brother of the Blue Moon who the Enjoreli worshiped as Croesia; he is known elsewhere as Shargash and Tolat. He spends half his time in the Second Hell, and half in the Sky. Worship of Vorthan is primitive and savage, with blood sacrifice, including the sacrifice of captured foemen. The Red God is ancient in the northwest, possibly dating back to the Enjoreli Bull People. Western sources claim he is the son of Ehilm, the Sun God and Nakala, the Goddess of Darkness.

Vorthan is depicted as a scowling old man with black skin with a red jewel embedded in his brow.

For the Jonatlings and other hill barbarians of Fronela, Vorthan, whilst cruel, he is not the foe of Orlanth like Jagrekriand or Shargash are for the Heortlings.

His cult may be a survival from the days of the Eleven Beasts Alliance.

 

I come to this discussion late, but I greatly appreciate it.  I have some plans for Fronela that relate to some fan-work I am doing for 13th Age Glorantha and Lunar Arrolia.

I think the one thing I have not seen mentioned here is the "fact" that Zorak Zoran and Shargash really seem to be photo negatives of each other (even as one bullies Yelmalio and the other Elmal) and with Vorthan, we seem to see a mix of Zorak Zoran underworld and Shargash/Tolat red planet attributes.  

I have plans for Vorthan (to be made up out of whole cloth) but this discussion has been enlightening and I very much look forward to the next great work from Martin Helsdon!

Cheers!

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